Published on 8th January 2020

Diving into the world of breast pumping can be daunting as a new mother. There are a million and one terms linked to breastfeeding and getting your head around them all can be challenging. We've put together a manageable list to help you on your breast pumping journey.


Hopefully you won’t have to come across this one, but if you do there’s no need to panic; be equipped! Mastitis usually occurs to one breast and is when the milk ducts become blocked and are not cleared. This can lead to painful, lumpy breasts and flu-like symptoms such as aches, a high temperature and tiredness. Generally resting up, continuing to pump and giving your breast an occasional massage to help clear any blockages should do the trick.

There are other simple preventative actions and natural alternatives that can help you take care of your breasts during breastfeeding and pumping.

Breast Pump Valve

A Valve is a small part of the breast pump made from a flexible silicone material that stretches and releases in order to create the suction from your pump. Due to the wear and tear nature of the Valve it’s worth keeping an eye on it. If you’re experiencing a drop in suction or milk production, don’t fear, it’s probably time for a replacement!

Breast Pump Flange

The Flange (also known as a Breast Shield), is a nipple shaped sheath worn over the areola and nipple during breast pumping. It contains small holes at the end to allow the milk to pass through and comes in a selection of sizes to ensure you have the breast (mind the pun) possible experience.


Colostrum is the first form of milk produced by mothers prior to giving birth and immediately after delivery. It's thick, sticky, yellow in colour and packed full of nutrients and antibodies to protect and promote growth in newborns. Hand expression is often the most effective way of expressing colostrum, however you’re more than welcome to pump afterwards for 10 - 15 minutes to drive some extra stimulation!

Cluster feeding

Sometimes your baby is going to get really hungry and no matter how much they feed, they just keep coming back for seconds. Don’t worry though! This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve had a drop in milk production, it could also be a common occurance called cluster feeding. This is when your baby will feed continuously for a long period of time, or you’ll notice short intervals between feeds. It’s normal behaviour so don’t worry about it too much. Grab the remote or a book, get cosy and feed away!


mmHG stands for millimeters of mercury and it’s the standard unit of measurement for breast pump suction or vacuum pressure. The average is around 200mmHG for personal pumps and 300 for a hospital grade breast pump. Remember, stronger doesn’t mean better!

Let down

This is the reflex when your breasts are ready to express milk for your baby. It often occurs after your baby has been suckling a few minutes and will be accompanied by a tingling or warm sensation. The let down reflex can also be sprung into action by hearing a baby cry - or even just the thought of your little one! 

Hopefully this list has helped you get a grasp on some of the terms used within the wonderful world of breast pumping. 

For more tips and advice, have a look at our absolute essentials for new mums compilation so you feel prepared and enjoy your first few months looking after your tiny new human.